What If You Miss Maintenance Payments

The Child Maintenance Service and CSA use three different methods to collect unpaid child support. Non-payment can result in court action or money being taken from earnings, benefits, or a pension.

Both the Child Maintenance Service and the Child Support Agency (CSA) will take action for the non-payment of child support.

So, what happens when a payment is missed? The first response is for the payment management service to contact the ‘paying’ parent and:

  • Try and find out why they missed a child maintenance payment.
  • Make arrangements for them to pay the amount owing.
  • Issue a warning of what action they may take if the child support remains unpaid.

Is the paying parent, you should always respond to the Child Maintenance Service or CSA. As a rule, failing to do so means they will take action to get any child maintenance owed.

Non-Payment Enforcement Charges
  • Regular deduction order: Charge £50
  • Deduction from earnings request or order: Charge £50
  • Lump sum deduction order: Charge £200
  • Liability order: Charge £300

Note: Child Maintenance Services first introduced the enforcement charges for non-payment in June 2014.

Action the Services Can Take

As a rule, the management service can take immediate action. They have no need to delay a response to a paying parent that uses their services to make payments.

A paying parent can use Child the Maintenance Service or the CSA to calculate child support and then make direct payments themselves. In this case, the receiving parent would need to contact the service and ask them to take action.

There are three different methods used to collect money if you miss your child support payments and it leaves unpaid child maintenance.

1. Taking Money from Earnings or Benefits

As a paying parent, the service that you use can instruct your employer to deduct money from your wages (and the amount). Your employer must pass the amount over to the service. Failing to do so means they can take the employer to court.

The paying parent might be getting benefits, the State Pension, or a War Pension. In this case, the service can usually take an amount from these types of payments.

2. Taking Money from a Bank Account

Neither the Child Maintenance Service nor the Child Support Agency need permission to take money from a bank or building society account. Either one can instruct the bank or the building society to take a one-off payment or regular payments.

3. Taking Court Action

The service can take a paying parent to court over unpaid child maintenance. If that happens the courts can:

  • Send bailiffs to the home of the paying parent. They use Sheriff Officers for the same purpose in Scotland. A bailiff’s powers mean they can take and sell your personal belongings to get any owed child maintenance.
  • Send the paying parent to prison.
  • Force the sale of a property and use the proceeds to pay off any child maintenance owed.
  • Collect and use any money owed by another person to the paying parent and use it to pay off the unpaid child support.

It is not uncommon for a paying parent to try to sell or transfer a property to someone else to avoid making the payments. In this case, the service that manages their case can make a request to the courts to stop them selling or transferring it.

Note: If asked, the courts can also reverse any sale or transfer that already happened. The paying parent may need to pay legal costs for the service and themselves if action is taken through the courts.

What Happens If You Miss Child Support Payment: Enforcement Action and Charges